Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reports that the Angels, Twins, Rangers, Rays, and Blue Jays are among “at least five teams” to express interest in Manny Ramirez, which is a surprise given how little speculation has surrounded him publicly throughout the offseason.
Rojas writes that Ramirez has been training in Arizona in an effort to show he can still be used in left field in addition to designated hitter. Or as Google amusingly translates Rojas’ story from Spanish to English: Ramirez is preparing “to work in the gardens if necessary.”
Garden work or not, Ramirez will likely need to wait until Jim Thome chooses a home for 2011, because the Twins and Rangers are said to be bidding on Thome and he’s the biggest DH domino to fall in front of guys like Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero, and Johnny Damon.
Ramirez was a non-factor for the White Sox down the stretch after they claimed him off waivers from the Dodgers, but still hit .298 with a .409 on-base percentage and .460 slugging percentage in 90 games overall last season, which is good for an .870 OPS that ranked 10th among all outfielders and designated hitters with 300 or more plate appearances.
UPDATE: You can cross the Twins off the Ramirez list, as they’ve re-signed Thome. And now that everyone’s top DH target is off the market, interest in Guerrero and Ramirez should pick up.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.